SEBRING — The 15th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo started at Sebring Regional Airport Wednesday and continued through Saturday. Residents and visitors from all over the country flocked to the expo to view the latest in aviation.

“The event started in 2004 in recognition of the FAA’s [Federal Aviation Administration’s] new category of light sport,” Janice Rearick, expo program manager, said.

“The light sport category made it affordable to get into the air. The expo is a great way to celebrate a new way of flying,” she said.

The Runway Cafe and several food trucks offered a wide variety of dining and snacking options. From hamburgers, hot dogs and gyros to ice cream and churros and cream, attendees feasted on carnival-type foods.

One of the biggest draws was the opportunity to fly a plane before purchasing it. Financing options were available at the expo.

The Heart of Highland Show Choir sang the “Star Spangled Banner” during the opening ceremony, and the Flying Musicians Association played the blues for participants as they entered and exited the expo.

“It’s cool to see the A-5 icon,” Justin Cromer, from Ohio, said. “I’ve been reading about it and I’ve seen videos, but this was the first time I saw it [in person].” Cromer brought his wife and children to the expo to view the planes and enjoy a Florida vacation.

The Icon A5 is a completely consumer designed airplane, Josh Scheid, from Cruiser Aircraft Inc., said. “You can store it in the garage. One person can do it in 20 seconds per side. It’s the only certified spin resistant airplane by the FAA.”

When an airplane goes into a spin, it can cause a fatal accident. This plane is designed to avoid that dangerous scenario.

In addition to airplanes that are built to a customer’s specifications, the expo also offered kits that pilots can construct themselves.

Gyrocopters are popular aircraft for people who want to be able to fly like a helicopter but want the ease of flying an airplane. One of the models featured at the expo boasted a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour and a top speed of 120 mph.

Many attendees were from out of town. Jerilyn Geiger, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, said, “It’s a great way to spend a beautiful day in Florida. Airplanes and sun, you don’t get any better than that.”

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